He Can’t Cross His Legs
It’s a cold October night and training is at the midway point for an U14 Major Division Schoolboy side. The team is in the midst of a crossing and finishing practice when I notice something that rang a few bells with me in relation to Senior level. As one of the kids races into the box his teammate fails to deliver the cross, the ball goes high and wide of the intended target. The kid who was expecting the cross to arrive immediately turned to his coach and said “can I go on the wing, Ryan can’t cross his legs never mind the ball” followed by a laugh and wink towards Ryan to make it seem as though he was joking. To the coaches credit he pulled Ryan to one side and spent a few moments working with him on his technique, but still I couldn’t help but think of the damage the negative comments would cause to a child so young. All this got me thinking about a ‘banter’ culture that has crept into the game at all levels. It’s as tough players will pass remarks off as a joke when the truth is the comments are little digs at teammates.
For anyone involved in Senior amateur football today they will see confidence destroying comments passed off the whole time as ‘just banter’. Those comments are seemingly taken as ‘banter’ but if players were forced to admit it those little digs absolutely effects confidence and in some causes also impacts on team spirit within a group. How to deal with this ‘banter culture’ when it is turning nasty?
There will be many varied views on how to develop a strong mindset among footballers, but ultimately confidence is a result of practice. Turning negative energy into positive energy is a huge asset or mindset to have in football. Negative words can destroy a players confidence or it can raise him or her up to new levels. It’s learning to deal with negative energy and using it for positive outcome that is key. Perhaps reminding players of this at all age levels is the only sure fire way to limit the damage of ‘the just banter era’. What do coaches think? How do coaches deal with a culture filled with players who pass off nasty remarks disguised as ‘just banter’? Comments welcome.